Playing Outside, It’s More than Fun

Imagine a child, skipping along a dirt road surrounded by green woods as they toss a hula hoop into the air. This child anticipates the fall of the hula hoop as they quickly throw out one arm to catch it with their small hand. Once that hula hoop hits the child’s hand, they immediately begin spinning it faster and faster on one finger until they let go, tossing it into the sky and waiting for it to fall back down again. This exploration goes on for quite some time as the child pretends they are performing in an Olympic hula hoop competition. 

This story is more than a scenario for me because I know the child I’m describing above. This kiddo did not grow up to be in the Olympics, but I can tell you they still love the outdoors. As a kid, I spent tons of time playing outside while letting my imagination run wild. My hula hoop allowed me to compete in the Olympics; my wooden playset was my castle and that bicycle, it was sometimes a racecar. I had quite the imagination as a child that always seemed to be put into practice when I played outside. Looking back on my childhood, I have some great memories of spending time with nature. In fact, I would say that my favorite thing to do as a kid was playing outdoors. This is why at first, I was surprised to hear that children today are spending less time playing outside as compared to the kiddos in past generations.1  However, I learned that there are different reasons why children spend more time with the indoors rather than the great outdoors and it made sense. The experts tell us that parents have fears about their children playing outside due to safety concerns, while children also spend more time inside doing things like watching TV, playing computer games and using other types of technology.2  These factors are even affecting very young children as some research suggests that on average, kiddos aged 2-5 may spend more than 32 hours a week watching television.3

After hearing this information, I realized that as a kid, I grew up in a different world than the children today. I didn’t have access to things like tablets, our family phone hung on the kitchen wall, and it wasn’t until I was older that we had a computer in our home. So, technology wasn’t a huge part of my life growing up. However, in today’s world, it’s a lot different. From the moment a child is born, they are exposed to a variety of screens. Just like adults are drawn to these chirping and beeping screens, kiddos are too. These various technological devices do provide many benefits to the world. I’m certainly thankful that my handy GPS has saved me from getting lost on many occasions. However, even though technology provides us with some significant advantages, it still raises concerns, especially when it interferes with a child’s outdoor play. Playing outdoors is necessary for a child’s healthy development.1  Playing outside is more than fun to a child; it also supports their growing minds and bodies.

Child development specialists tell us that by playing outdoors kiddos can:

• Be more physically active. When children play outside, they’re more active than when they play indoors, and they’re more likely to take part in play that builds their hearts, lungs, and muscles.1,2

• Improve their emotional health by reducing their stress and putting them in a good mood.1

• Be more creative and grow a more active imagination.3

• Build their immune system, which can prevent them from missing daycare or school in the future.2,3

• Learn how to take healthy risks in the presence of their parents such as running faster, climbing higher, jumper further, etc.1,4

These are only some of the benefits of outdoor play. As I researched this topic, it seemed that the many positive effects of playing outside for children were never-ending. With a lot of us experiencing the warm weather brought to us by the summer season, it can be a wonderful time for children to play outside and connect with nature. If you are someone who has children, I hope that you’re able to take some time to enjoy the great outdoors with your kids. If you are an individual who uses the Growing Great KidsTM  Curriculum, I encourage you to check out the subsection The Great Outdoors located in the 13-24 Months Manual under 16-18 Months…Play and Stimulation. You may also look over the list below that includes some of the GGKTM activities parents may enjoy outside with their children. I thank you for stopping by this month to check out our blog and hope that you will visit again in August. Have a great summer and remember to help children delight in the outdoors!

Growing Great KidsTM Activities to Support Parents with Outdoor Play

Growing Great KidsTM Birth-12 Months Activities

• 4-6 Months: Play and Stimulation…The Great Outdoors

Growing Great KidsTM 13-24 Months Activities

          • 13-15 Months: Cues and Communication…Pointing and Naming

          • 13-15 Months: Play and Stimulation…Scribble

          • 13-15 Months: Play and Stimulation…Push and Pull

          • 13-15 Months: Play and Stimulation…Run the Bases

          • 16-18 Months: Cues and Communication…Color Hunt

          • 16-18 Months: Play and Stimulation…Obstacle Course

          • 16-18 Months: Play and Stimulation…Amazing Animals

          • 16-18 Months: Play and Stimulation…Wet and Wild: Water Play

          • 19-21 Months: Play and Stimulation…Jump, Jump

          • 22-24 Months: Cues and Communication…Doing It Play-by-Play

          • 22-24 Months: Play and Stimulation…Making Art: Outdoor Art

Growing Great KidsTM 25-36 Months Activities

          • 25-30 Months: Basic Care…Follow My Directions Shape Game

          • 25-30 Months: Physical and Brain Development…Running and Stopping

          • 25-30 Months: Play and Stimulation…Sand and Snow Sculptures

          • 25-30 Months: Play and Stimulation…I Spy

          • 31-36 Months: Cues and Communication…Following by Leading

          • 31-36 Months: Play and Stimulation…Growing a Garden

          • 31-36 Months: Play and Stimulation…Spot the Color


1. Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development. (2019). Outdoor play

          hard-wired for nature! [PDF File]. Retrieved from http://www.child-

2. Early Head Start National Resource Center. (2013). Supporting outdoor play and

exploration for infants and toddlers [PDF file]. Retrieved from https://eclkc.ohs.

3. Head Start Body Start. (n.d.). Outdoor play benefits [PDF file]. Retrieved from

4. Kinsner, K. (2019). Fresh air, fun, and exploration: Why outdoor play is essential for

healthy development. YC Young Children, 74(2), 90-92. Retrieved from

Recent Posts

Love Leads to Learning

Love Leads to Learning

Carving out time to create our monthly blog is always refreshing for me. It’s an opportunity to step back from writing curriculum and...

read more
History is Not Your Destiny

History is Not Your Destiny

Some people are born with a love for reading. You know if you’re one of them! My sister is. Even as a child, she often had her head...

read more
Embrace the Joy!

Embrace the Joy!

As I sit down to write this blog, my week is coming to a close. It’s Friday. I’ve spent my workdays in a virtual conference learning,...

read more
Fresh Air

Fresh Air

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, spring is officially here, and that’s a reason to celebrate! I don’t know about...

read more


Hope can be defined as wanting something to happen or be true or to expect something with confidence, per Merriam-Webster....

read more
The Next Generation

The Next Generation

Great Kids has been up to some exciting things for the past couple of years, and we are finally ready to share with the rest of the world! We have completed our most comprehensive update of our GGK Prenatal to 36 months (GGK P36) curriculum series – we call it the “GGK P36 NEXT GENERATION” series. It has been a labor of love for us. We intentionally reviewed all components of the curriculum, listened to feedback from the field, and incorporated the best practices in early childhood for our revisions, and the result is spectacular.

read more

Growing Great Kids® Next Generation P-36

Our latest effort to support the work of Home Visiting, our Growing Great Kids® Next Generation (GGK®) Curriculum materials.

GGK® for Preschoolers

A Curriculum & Certification Program for Home Visitors aimed at fostering the growth of nurturing, developmentally enriched parenting skills, building protective factors for children 3 to 5 years old.

Open Enrollment

View upcoming virtual seminar open enrollment dates and subject areas.

How to Get Started

Start by scheduling a free 30-minute webinar to learn more about how your organization might benefit from Great Kids® affordable curriculum with no recurring costs.

Schedule Your Free Webinar Today

Frequently Asked Questions from Our New Customers

Please review common questions for those that are new to Great Kids®. Book your free, personalized webinar to learn more.

For Our Existing Customers

Thank you for being part of the Great Kids® family of agencies and programs. Support from Great Kids is just a click or phone call away.

Pre and Post Certification Products

All the tools you need to start using Great Kids® Curriculum right away and to continue to enhance the effectiveness of your program.

Ordering Materials

Need replacement manuals? Want to add to your library of Great Kids® resources? Find everything you need here.

  • New Products
  • Recovery-Impact-Support-Empower
  • Replacement Materials
  • Spanish Materials Available

Open Enrollment

View upcoming virtual seminar open enrollment dates and subject areas.

Existing Customer FAQs

Are you a past or current customer of Great Kids®? Find common questions and answers here.

Pricing Information for Existing Customers

Find pricing for companion products and other programs.

About Great Kids®

In partnership with home visitors, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of children feel safe and secure, loved and valued, curious and capable.

Contact Great Kids

100 North 72nd Avenue

Wausau, WI 54401


Phone: 1-800-906-5581


Great Kids® has incorporated decades of theoretical and empirical foundations regarding the kinds of interventions that have been shown to make a difference for children into the Growing Great Kids® Prenatal to 5 Years and Growing Great Families® curricula.

Alignment With Program Models

Our curricula are flexible enough to be used within a multitude of program models.

Protective Factors

The research-based principles of the Protective Factors Framework were foundational in the development of the Growing Great Kids® Curriculum.

Great Kids® Blog

Find informative articles about growing creativity in young children, welcoming a new sibling, playing outside, as well as general Great Kids® updates.

GK Video Podcast

A video podcast series dedicated to overcoming bias in others, and within our selves.

Parent’s Place Newsletter

Limited edition, weekly installment Newsletter published by Great Kids® from March through December 2020 with printable resources for home visitors and the families they serve.

Open Enrollment

Great Kids is proud to offer a variety of virtual seminar opportunities! Visit our Open Enrollment page for the latest dates and seminar offerings. 


We continuously add seminar dates to our list so please check back often. For more information about how to enroll, contact us at


You can also enter your email address in the form below to subscribe to receive regular updates from GK, including information on open enrollment. 


We look forward to partnering with you!

We look forward to connecting with you!